"Coming at you!" Justin Stewart called, tossing the Frisbee
into the air. Fred Kelman leaped for it, snagging it neatly with one hand
and landing gracefully.
"You'll have to do better than that, Justin!" Fred laughed, adjusting his red baseball cap. "Frank, it's yours!"
Franklin Park grinned, turning and performing a behind-the-back catch. "Thank you, thank you," he bowed.
"Show-off," Rosa De Santos laughed, pelting him with grass. Frank and Rosa had been friends forever, since their older brothers, Rocky and Adam, had met before the two younger children had even been born. She was the only person he allowed to tease him. Frank resembled his older brother greatly, while Rosa had her father's black hair and eyes.
"You should talk, Rosa," chuckled Tasha Young, the final member of the group. Her dark eyes flashed with amusement as she watched her friends goofing off. She and Justin rarely had days like this, spending so much of their time at the Little Angel's Haven, the Angel Grove orphan's shelter. The people who ran the shelter were nice, but they were grown-ups, and had far too many kids to look after to devote this much personal attention to just one or two. She always knew how lucky she was to have found friends who she was able to be so close to. She'd grown up in one of the harbor district's poor black neighborhoods, where friend tended to come and go, often in ambulances and body bags.
Suddenly a bright light streaked through the northern sky, and a flash of light nearly blinded the five thirteen year-olds. "What was that?" Fred asked as his sight cleared. Instinctively, the entire group turned towards Justin. The boy was a certified genius, often compared to Billy Cranston by teachers and parents. Like Billy, Justin had scored so high on his placement tests that the school administration wanted to send him up a grade, and like Billy, he and his father had refused. In fact, Justin and Billy were rather good friends, often working on projects together. Billy's friends Rocky, Tommy, and Adam taught martial arts classes at the shelter, and Justin's best friends Franklin and Rosa were related to Rocky and Adam.
Justin shrugged. "Meteor strike? If it was, there should be a huge crater off to the north. Come on, let's go check it out!"
Now everyone turned to Fred. He was the unofficial leader of their group, and had an instinctive sense for trouble, something very useful in Angel Grove. If he thought that it would be unsafe to head up there, they wouldn't go. Fred simply shrugged, however. "Sounds good to me."
The five hurried off, heading for where the bright light had touched down. When they reached the site, however, they were astounded at what they saw. A small shuttlecraft, not more than three feet high, was buried nose-deep in the turf. However, there was almost no crater around it, and no sign of the intense heat that must have been given off as the thing slowed down.
"Incredible," Justin whispered, moving closer. "It's some sort of alien technology. Look, you can see the retro-rockets that it must have fired upon entering the atmosphere. This is fascinating."
"Um, Justin," Rosa said nervously, "are you sure that getting close to that thing is such a good idea? I mean, aliens are not necessarily a good thing."
"No, can't you sense it?" Franklin replied, following his blue-clad friend. "It's not malevolent. There's something in there that's good."
"Hey, I trust Justin and Frank," Tasha sighed. "They've been idiots, but they've never been wrong before." She joined them beside the shuttle, and Fred was not far behind her. Sighing, Rosa followed.
"Well, J, can you get it open?" Tasha asked, with the confidence of someone who had never been let down before.
"It's not like hacking into the shelter's computers, Tasha," Justin replied, not looking at her. "This is delicate alien technology. One wrong move, and I could fry whatever is inside, or worse, fry us. I got it!" he cried as a hatch opened on the shuttle.
Out of the hatch came five posts of some sort of clear plastic. Encased in the plastic were wristbands and keys of some sort. After the posts, a speaker extended from the ship. From the speaker came a synthesized, electronic voice.
"Greetings," the voice said. "I am Lerigot, wizard of the planet Liara. This machine is translating my language into something that you will be able to understand. A pirate by the name of Divatox is coming to Earth to release a being known as Maligore from his prison in the depths of a volcano on the island of Muranthias. The island is located in a pocket dimension which is extremely hard to get to. Unfortunately, Divatox has stolen my Golden Key, which will allow her to break the barrier.
"I cannot leave my planet to stop her, although I devoutly wish I could. Instead, I have created the Turbo Powers to help your people thwart her plans. This ship is enspelled to offer the powers only to those destined to bear them. You must stop Divatox. If she releases Maligore, your entire planet could be destroyed. Also, she wants the power of Turbo. You must defend it at all costs. No one else can do this, my friends. Only you.
"The posts will melt at your touch, if you are truly the destined ones. By taking up these keys, you will be taking an oath to protect, to defend Earth and all its people from the forces of evil, and never to use the powers for evil yourself. It is an awesome responsibility, but there is no one else who can take it. Good luck, Turbo Rangers." The voice died away.
The five regarded each other seriously. "Should we do it?" Franklin asked at last. "You heard Lerigot. It's a lot of responsibility."
"Yeah, but he also said that no one else could do it," Rosa pointed out. "If we turn this down, who'll stand up to this Divatox?"
"The Power Rangers will," Tasha replied practically. "Come on, there are sixteen of them! They can handle anything that creep throws at them."
"It's not necessarily a question of numbers," Justin reminded her. "Besides, what if she has an army? They can't fight forever."
Everyone turned to look at Fred, who had a thoughtful look on his face. "Destiny," he said slowly. "Lerigot said we were destined for this. If we walk away from it, we're turning our backs on every chance we have to make a difference. We are the only ones who can do this. If we don't, then we're saying that it's okay with us if Divatox conquers the Earth. We can't let that happen."
"Fred, we're not heroes," Franklin pointed out. "We're just kids."
"Heroes are defined by their actions, not their ages," Fred replied. "Your brother told me that once. We have a choice here. Either we walk away, and always wonder what we could have been- or we accept the risk, the danger, and make a difference. I know what I'm going to choose." Reaching out, he placed his hand on one of the posts, which immediately began to shine with red light.
"I'm in," Justin told him, reaching out as well. The post he chose began to glow as well, this one in bright blue.
"Me too," Rosa added, making a face as the third post glowed pink under her touch.
There was a long silence after that. Then Frank sighed. "Aw, hell, who wants to grow up anyway?" Reaching out a hand, he grasped a fourth post, which began to shine with an emerald light, the same color as his T-shirt.
Tasha watched them incredulously. Shaking her head, she looked at each of her friends in turn. "Well, if you're all so hot to get yourselves killed, I might as well come along for the ride." Placing her hand on the last post, she saw it glow yellow.
As if this were some sort of awaited signal, a current of energy ripped through all five kids. Their heads snapped back and their eyes widened. Fred's baseball cap flew off his head, unnoticed, and caught in a nearby tree. Beneath their hands, the material which encased the Turbo Morphers and keys melted away, dropping the machines into their grasp. They felt as if more energy than was contained in a thousand suns had been poured into them, then it dissipated and was gone.
"Whoa," Rosa managed, picking herself up off the ground. "What a rush. Everybody okay?"
"I can't reach my hat," Fred replied, disgusted. The others chuckled as Fred retrieved his baseball cap, which was never far from his head, and always worn backwards. "Don't laugh!" Fred grinned at them. "My dad gave me this hat!"
"So what do we do now?" Frank asked, looking around.
"Oh, one more thing," Lerigot's synthesized voice spoke up, startling all five Turbos. "There's an extra bonus for you. Blue Ranger, my final gift to you is this computer." A small computer, just big enough to fill both hands, appeared. "It will tell you more about your powers and equipment. The rest of you can find out about your special gifts in it's files. Good luck, my young friends." The voice died away once again, and this time, the ship followed, fading out of existence until there was nothing left but the Turbo Morphers to prove that it was real. Solemnly, the five young Rangers strapped the Morphers on their wrists, where the large gray machines suddenly disappeared. The keys were quickly tucked into pockets.
Picking up the computer, Justin was about to place it in the pocket of his blue flannel shirt when it simply disappeared. Startled, Justin called, "Come back!" and it did. Further experimentation proved that the computer could be stored in a sub-space pocket when necessary, and recalled at will.
"So now what?" Frank asked again, repeating his question from earlier. No one ever got a chance to answer him, because a woman in a strange outfit, leading a troop of monsters, teleported in.
"Give me the Turbo Powers!" she cried.
The five young Rangers dropped into fighting stances. "Divatox, I presume," Fred grinned. The two groups began eyeing each other, sizing the other up for a fight.
* * *
"Oof!" Tommy cried, as he slammed into the mat. His best friend Jason grinned down at him.
"Watch your focus, Tommy," Jason chuckled, helping his friend to his feet. "Without focus, you'll never win a fight."
"Hey, I focus just fine when it matters," Tommy shot back good-naturedly, throwing himself to the attack once more. On the other side of the room, some of their friends watched in amusement.
"Does this remind anyone of the time they were going to compete in the Team Ninja competition?" Kimberly asked, taking a sip of her soda.
Skull chuckled and Bulk winced. "Don't remind us," the bigger boy groaned. "Skull and I still have nightmares about watching our ninja warriors get their butts kicked."
"We actually had something that time," Skull reminisced. "They were actually good, even if we did have to pay them to let us manage them."
Zack and Trini nearly snorted their floats laughing. Lillian O'Neil, Tommy's girlfriend, watched the rest of the group wistfully. They often talked about things that she had never experienced. They never made her feel left out, but sometimes she wished that she had been there as well. Suddenly her communicator toned, startling everyone. The group leaned forward, surrounding the wristband. "We read you, Zordon. What's up?" Lillian asked quietly.
"Please teleport to the Power Chamber, Rangers. A situation has arisen that needs your immediate attention."
Lillian looked at her friends and shrugged. Turning back to the mats, they saw that Tommy and Jason had also received the message and were heading their way. Sneaking out into the hall, they checked for onlookers and teleported out.
In the Power Chamber, they found all sixteen Rangers present, clustered around the viewing globe. It showed a woman in knee-high boots, a short skirt, a top that showcased her considerable- talents, and a gold mask. She was backed up by two ugly monsters and a number of humanoid fish.
"Eww, gross," Kimberly frowned. "That outfit is just completely- gross," she repeated, for lack of a better word.
"That opinion depends entirely on gender," Billy replied, only to receive a smack on the head from his girlfriend, Christina.
"That, Rangers, is Divatox. She has come to Earth to release her fiance Maligore, an evil being that was imprisoned in a volcano centuries ago. She is looking for the power of Turbo, which will quite likely make her invincible. You must stop her."
Tommy nodded. "Right, Zordon."
"Zeo Rangers, you must go to the business district, where Divatox's brainless nephew Elgar and her second-in-command, Rygog, are wreaking havoc with a school of Piranhatrons, Divatox's answer to the Putties. Morphin Warriors, you must teleport to the park and stop Divatox from obtaining the Turbo Power. My sensors tell me that it is there."
"Right," Jason responded. Looking at Tommy, he grinned. In unison, the two boys let loose with their morphing call.
"It's morphin time!" Sixteen flashes of light, and Bulk was the only human left in the Power Chamber.
"I love it when they do that," Bulk sighed. "I just hope they're all right."
* * *
"Hey, you! The overgrown Christmas tree ornament!" Red Ranger cried. Rygog turned towards him.
"Are you talking to me?" the monster inquired. His huge round upper-body armor did indeed resemble a large blue Christmas tree ball, but he didn't particularly like the comparison.
"Yeah! Why don't you go back where you came from?"
"Divatox wants this planet, and she always gets what she wants!" The large monster charged the Rangers, with Elgar close behind. The ten Zeo Rangers quickly found themselves surrounded by Piranhatrons.
Purple and Black Rangers were fighting back to back, knocking Piranhatrons left and right. Any fish that approached them was either met with a whack from the Shadow Staff or a vicious cut from the Sword of Lightning. The Piranhatrons were circling warily, unwilling to get too close.
Gold Ranger, on the other hand, was more than capable of handling the school of Piranhatrons closing in on him, all by himself. Occasional bursts of gold light were sighted as the Golden Power Staff bashed its way through the press.
Silver Ranger and White Ranger had teamed up with Green and Yellow Rangers, and were circling around Elgar. The mutant had his sword out, but didn't seem inclined to strike. He was far more absorbed in looking for a way out of his predicament.
Pink Ranger and Red Ranger were surrounded by Piranhatrons as well, punching, kicking, and generally causing chaos. Red Ranger was so absorbed in his current situation that he did not notice Rygog sneaking up behind him. Fortunately for him, Blue Ranger did.
"Hey, ugly!" Blue Ranger called. "Why don't you pick on someone who can give you a real fight?"
Rygog turned and smiled at his opponent. Blue Ranger gulped, taking a step back at the monster's fang-filled smile. "Oh, I intend to, Ranger. Come here!" A whip of pure energy shot out of his hands, encircling Blue Ranger's neck, pulling him into Rygog's reach. With the whip still tightening around Blue Ranger's throat, the mutant began pummeling his opponent unmercifully. Blue Ranger felt his ribs snap and his organs move around. The pain grew until it was too much for him, and he blacked out. Dropping Blue Ranger to the ground, Rygog drew back for one final strike, and felt his hand stopped. Turning to look, he realized that Silver Ranger had encircled his wrist with her power whip. The other Rangers had made short work of the Piranhatrons and Elgar, who had decided to retreat. Sensing he was outnumbered, Rygog teleported out.
Almost immediately, Red Ranger was by his friend's side. "Aw man, this does not look good. Come on, we have to get him to the Power Chamber. Maybe Zordon and Alpha can help him."
* * *
"I want those Turbo powers," Divatox threatened. "Give them to me now, and I'll let you live."
"Fat chance," Justin shot back. "Fred, shall we?"
Fred nodded. "Right. Shift into Turbo!" he called. He didn't know where the words came from, they just seemed right.
"Mountain Blaster Turbo Power!" Justin cried. His clothes changed into a blue Spandex suit and a helmet reminiscent of a car, headlights and all, formed over his face.
"Wind Chaser Turbo Power!" Rosa called. She underwent a change similar to Justin's, but the suit she wore was pink and came equipped with a skirt.
"Desert Thunder Turbo Power!" Frank yelled, and immediately was clad in a green version of his friend's suits.
"Dune Star Turbo Power!" Tasha shouted. Her outfit was yellow, and also had a skirt on it.
Fred, last of all, exclaimed, "Red Lightning Turbo Power!" His outfit was red, and had a much fancier helmet than the others. "What do you think of us now, Divatox?" Red Turbo asked, falling into a defensive position.
"I'm not impressed. Piranhatrons, get them!" The fish monsters rushed the five Turbo Rangers, who quickly found themselves extremely outnumbered. They also found, however, that the Turbo Ranger transformation gave them enhanced strength and stamina, and speed to rival most race cars. Red Turbo and Green Turbo fought beside each other in the team that they had perfected over the last two years. Red Turbo was quicker than his friend, able to land more punches and kicks on an adversary, but Green Turbo was stronger, so fewer punches did the job. Working together, they were almost unbeatable.
Meanwhile, Blue, Yellow, and Pink Turbos were in a back-to-back-to-back triangle formation, making it impossible for any of the Piranhatrons to get close enough to land a punch. They spun and whirled, taking out any and all fish that landed in their way. Still, the superior numbers were beginning to turn the tide when the Morphin Warriors appeared.
"Need a hand?" Jason asked, drawing his sword.
"The thought crossed my mind," Green Turbo shot back. He did not recognize Jason or any of the other Warriors, thanks to the magic which protected their identities. Only someone close to the warrior or someone who saw the warrior transform could tell who they were.
"Let's give them a hand," Jason called. The six older warriors leaped into the fray, and soon the Piranhatrons were no more. Divatox, realizing that she was hopelessly outnumbered, disappeared.
"And stay out!" Blue Turbo called, shaking his fist at the air.
Jason turned towards the five new Spandex-clad heroes. "You guys were great. But who are you?"
The five conferred with each other for a moment, then Red Turbo turned back towards Jason. "We're the Turbo Rangers. You'll be seeing us again." Then each Turbo Ranger laid a hand on his or her belt and they disappeared in five multi-colored showers of sparks.
"Whoa," Zack remarked. "That was weird."
"No kidding," Trini nodded. "Let's get back to the Power Chamber and tell Zordon about this."
"Yeah, maybe he knows something about these 'Turbo Rangers,'" Billy agreed. In six streaks of colored light, they teleported out.
* * *
"What was that all about, Fred?" Franklin asked. After teleporting away from the Morphin Warriors, the Turbos had landed in a deserted section of the park and demorphed. "Those were the Power Rangers, or at least one set of them. Why didn't we tell them who we are?"
"Because," Fred replied patiently, "we're thirteen year-olds. They're all adults. What do you think they would say if they knew who we were? 'Oh, great to meet you, nice to have you on our side?' Not likely. No, it would be 'You're all too young for this kind of work, this is nothing for kids.' Then they'd tell our parents about it, and we'd never be able to get away without a chaperone."
"Fred's right, Frank," Rosa added. "These are our powers. This is our responsibility. We've accepted it, and I, for one, am not going to let anyone tell me I'm too young to fight for what I believe in."
Tasha and Justin were ignoring the others, preferring to concentrate on retrieving the information in Lerigot's computer. "I've got it!" Justin cried, causing the others to cluster around. "We already know that the keys slip into a lock on the morpher to trigger the transformation. Oh, this is interesting. The design of the costumes wasn't set. It was simply made to take the form of something fast that we're familiar with."
"Cars?" Fred asked.
"Cars," Justin confirmed. "Apparently, there are also battle machines, 'Zords', they're apparently called, for us to use. They also took the form of fast vehicles that we're familiar with." A set of specifications came up on the screen, followed by a series of computer models.
"Fred, your Zord is Red Lightning, a race car. It has electrical cannons mounted on the front, and apparently it can change size from normal car size to Zord size, which is seven or eight times normal. I guess they can all do that. You'll be the head when they come together.
"Rosa, you've got Wind Chaser, another race car. It has a large wind generator, probably quite capable of stirring up a dust storm. You'll form the arms of the 'Megazord,' as he calls it.
"Frank, you've got a minivan, Desert Thunder. To make up for the fact that you're driving a minivan, you have the Thunder Cannon, a roof-mounted cannon capable of firing sonic waves that could stop a train. You're one of the Megazord's feet.
"Tasha, you've got Dune Star. She's a dune buggy, with the capability to fire short laser bursts. You'll be the other foot of the Megazord.
"I've got Mountain Blaster, a four-by-four that forms Megazord's torso. I can also fire laser blasts if necessary."
Frank leaned in closer. "Lerigot mentioned 'bonuses' for us all. The computer is yours, but what about the rest of us?"
"I'm working on it, I'm working on it. Ah, here we go. Rosa, you have the Wind Gliders. They're sort of like wings or a hang glider that appears on the back of your costume when you call for them. They let you kind of hang glide above the battle."
Rosa raised an eyebrow at that. "Cool," she mused.
"Tasha, you've got an I/O jack in your helmet, with a length of fiber optic cable. In addition, your suit has a heads-up display in the helmet and is wired for full virtual interactivity. In short, you are now Super-Hacker."
Tasha grinned. "Oh, boy. If you all thought I was bad before-"
"No using the powers for evil, remember?" Fred cautioned her.
"You are no fun, Red," she mock pouted.
Justin cleared his throat, drawing the attention back to him. "Frank, you have the Thunder Scanner. It'll increase your vision range, allow you to see infra-red, and basically pick up things that you might not see otherwise.
"Fred, you've got a shield. The Tire Shield, it says here."
Rosa snorted. "Poor Fred. We all get the cool gadgets, and what does he get? Armor All."
Shaking his head, Justin sighed. "Don't write the Tire Shield off so quickly, Rosa. It powers up and reduces damage by 50%."
Frank whistled. "Whoa. Pretty impressive."
"No kidding," Fred nodded. "This should come in very handy. In the meantime, let's head back to the shelter. It's almost time for us to be heading home, and we should probably all touch base there in case something's come up."
"Right," the others agreed. Justin replaced the computer in subspace, and the five headed off to the shelter.
* * *
"How's he doing?" Skull asked Tommy. The leader of the Zeo Rangers had chosen to stay at Angel Grove Community Hospital with his fallen friend until the other Zeos could inform the rest of the team what had happened to Rocky. Green, Gold, and White Rangers had gone to the De Santos house to inform Rocky's mother of what had happened, while Katherine and Tanya had gone to the reservation to collect David. Katarina was still at Rocky's bedside in the ICU, while Lillian was waiting with Tommy. Jamie, Jason, and Kimberly had gone to the shelter to tell Justin and Rosa the bad news, since the little girl would most likely not go home in time to catch her mother before the family headed to the hospital. Also, Rocky was very close to Justin, and the team felt that he ought to know as well. Billy and Trini were in the Power Chamber, monitoring Angel Grove for any sign of Divatox or the mysterious "Turbo Rangers," whom Zordon knew nothing about. Zack and Bulk had teleported to the hospital with Skull as soon as Zordon had told them what had happened.
"He's in critical condition," Tommy sighed. "He's hooked up to all this stuff, and they aren't even sure if he's going to live. All his accelerated healing ability went to protect his brain, and as a result, there's major internal injuries. It doesn't look good."
"Man," Bulk said quietly, "this has got to be tough on Katarina."
Despite his worry, Tommy smiled slightly. "She hasn't left Rocky's bedside since they first let us in. She nearly put the nurse who tried to remove her through a wall."
"That girl is tough," Zack nodded. "He'll be just fine, though. He's been through worse. We all have. Maybe not physically, but there have been times I thought we were all going to die."
Tommy started to respond, but his attention was taken by the young man in the green jacket stepping out of the elevator. A particularly sensitive person might have noticed a strong resemblance between Tommy and the newcomer, as they were both over six feet tall, with the same long, dark hair and caramel eyes. That was all they would notice, however. Only someone with the abilities of a Power Ranger would see that the two men were identical. The new arrival was Tyler Oliver, Tommy's Dark Reflection, and now a valuable ally to the team. Endowed with Tommy's mage abilities, Tyler had placed a glamour on himself and his wife Terry so that no one would notice that they were exact doubles of Tommy and Jamie.
"I came as soon as I got the call," Tyler said breathlessly, coming up to the four men. Terry was close behind him. "How is he doing?"
Tommy quickly explained Rocky's condition to the two newcomers, and saw them wince at his description of Rocky's injuries. Tyler shook his head sadly.
"Man, that's rough. I think with the three of us, though, we can fix things."
"Yeah, luckily, Angel Grove doctors are readier to accept miracles than most." They were interrupted as Christina Collins, the White Ranger ran in.
"Sorry it took so long," she panted. "Mrs. De Santos took the news well, but Alex, Miguel, and Emilia didn't. We had to escape from a trio of crying children before we could get back here. Adam is back at the Power Chamber, helping Billy and Trini scan for Divatox, and Trey's gone back to Pyramidas to try from there. Can we get in to see Rocky?"
Tommy nodded. "Yes, but only the three of us. They won't allow more than four at a time in, and Katarina refuses to leave."
"That's all right," Tyler grinned. "Skull, Bulk, and Zack can watch out for doctors. I really don't feel like explaining my mage abilities to them."
Tommy chuckled. "Right. Good point." The three of them headed into Rocky's room in the ICU, with their friends standing outside. Rocky lay in the hospital bed, connected to a heart monitor and several IVs. The three Rangers winced at the sight of their friend in such a state.
No words needed to be spoken among them. Christina gestured for Katarina to move away from the bed, which she did. Then she placed her hands on Rocky's chest and reached out with her psychic healing senses. Tommy and Tyler came up behind her, each placing one hand on her shoulders. Once in contact with her, they could sense what she sensed, and could "see" the damage done to Rocky's body. Rolling up her mental sleeves, Christina began to heal the damage done to Rocky. Through their link, Tommy and Tyler fed her all of their healing power.
Katarina, outside the link, watched in awe as Rocky's body began to shine with a mint-green light. Her gypsy blood made her sensitive, and she could feel the raw power humming in the room. Finally, it stopped, and Christina collapsed into Tyler's arms.
"It's done," she said wearily. "I've healed all the life-threatening damage, but the rest will have to come back on it's own. He'll be out of action for a little while."
"That's why Kat went to go get Dave. We'll need him to take over for Rocky temporarily, especially with Divatox around," Tommy told her. Carefully, the two men escorted Christina out into the lobby, helping her to sit down on a convenient couch. David, Kat, and Tanya had already arrived, and Tommy noticed that the communicator on his brother's wrist was now blue, rather than the desert red it had been. Grinning, he extended a hand to his twin. "Nice to have you back, Dave."
"Yeah, whatever," David grinned back, grasping his brother's hand. "This is only temporary, right? I intend to leave the full-time heroing to you professionals."
Tommy nodded. "He'll be all right," he responded. "You can go see him, if you want."
The three of them did want, and they headed into the ICU.
* * *
"Why do you suppose they looked so strange when we told them about Rocky?" Jamie asked Jason. "I mean, yeah, they were worried, but they also looked- I don't know, kind of guilty."
"I think you're just seeing things," Jason responded. "How could five thirteen year-olds feel guilty about Rocky getting caught in a random monster attack?" That was the story the team had concocted to explain Rocky's injury, and that was what they had told Justin and company at the shelter. They had offered to walk the kids to the hospital, which wasn't far away, but they had declined. Fred and Franklin needed to call their parents and ask if they could go visit Rocky, and then they would walk by themselves. It wasn't as if the hospital was in a bad neighborhood or anything like that.
"No, I think Jamie's right, Jason," replied Kim, shaking her head. "They looked kind of like we do when someone gets kidnapped as bait for us."
"Hmm, did someone say 'kidnapping?'" a sultry female voice asked behind them. "That's one of my favorite pastimes." The three teens whirled to see Divatox behind them.
"What do you want?" Jason snarled, as the three Rangers fell into defensive positions.
"Well, I'm getting married soon, and I noticed that the three of you were both strong and pure of heart. I need humans like that as sacrifices for my beloved Maligore, and I think you'll do just fine."
"Dream on," Jamie spat. "We don't go down that easy."
"We'll see about that," promised Divatox. "Piranhatrons!"
"It's morphin time!" Jason responded.
"Zeo Shard Power!"
"Tyrannosaurus!" Three flashes of light, and Divatox found herself facing Purple Ranger and the Red and Pink Morphin Warriors.
"Oh, so you're some of Zordon's little Power Pukes?" Divatox asked, unimpressed. "I don't remember costumes like the ones on you two, but you've got Zeo Power, don't you?" She pointed to Purple Ranger. "You may be a bit too much to handle, but the other two will do just fine. Piranhatrons!"
The fish-men began swarming all over the three teens. They were far too strong for the three Rangers to fight on their own, and the press of fish kept any of them from being able to reach their communicators. One well-placed blows to the back of the head each, and Jason and Kimberly were unconscious. Despite her struggles, Purple Ranger could not force her way through the school to reach them. Two of the Piranhatrons picked Jason and Kim up, slung them over their shoulders in a fireman's carry, and disappeared.
"No!" Purple Ranger cried, even as the fish surrounding her evaporated into nothing. "Bring them back," she snarled, turning towards Divatox. "Bring them back, or I swear I'll kill you."
"Threats are so boring," Divatox yawned. "I have better things to do. Have a nice day." In a flash of red, she disappeared.
"I have to get back to the Power Chamber," Purple Ranger muttered. "Maybe Zordon can help." Becoming a streak of purple light, she teleported out.
* * *
"They won't let us in," Fred told his friends disgustedly. "They say we shouldn't strain him, but Tommy and company are coming in and out of there all the time. They just don't want to let us in because we're kids."
"Well, we're not going to take this lying down. What we need is a diversion," Rosa grinned. "Fred, you and Tasha distract her while Frank, Justin, and I sneak in. Then when we come back, Justin and Frank can distract her while you two go in. After all, you're all really good at doing the puppy eyes."
Fred sighed, but agreed. He and Tasha headed back to the desk, both looking up at the nurse with big brown eyes, turning on every ounce of cuteness and charm they possessed. While the nurse was watching them both and fighting not to laugh, the other three kids sneaked into the ICU. They were right outside Rocky's room when a doctor came down the hall. Justin looked around quickly, then his eyes lit up as he spied a gurney with a sheet hanging down from it. "Under there, quick!" he hissed. Under the gurney, no one could see them, but they had a good view of Rocky's room. Their hearing, which had been augmented by the Turbo powers, allowed them to hear every word that Tommy and David were saying to their friend.
"Hey, Rocko, how're you feeling?" Tommy asked quietly.
"Pretty good," Rocky mumbled. "I'm so spaced out on painkillers right now, I don't think I'd blink if Rito and Goldar walked in here with a singing telegram. So, you've got my powers, Dave?"
Beneath the gurney, Justin and Rosa frowned at each other. "Powers?" Justin mouthed silently. Rosa just shrugged.
"Yeah, man," David was saying, "but it's only temporary, until you're back on your feet again."
"Sounds good," Rocky murmured. "'s good to know you're here." Just then, a strange beeping noise came from Tommy's wrist. The three kids hidden beneath the gurney leaned forward, interested.
"What is it, Zordon?" Tommy asked. A deep, rumbling voice came from the band on his wrist.
"Jason and Kimberly have been captured by Divatox. Jamie is safe, but she was not able to stop the kidnapping. Teleport to the Power Chamber and I will tell you more."
"We're on it," Tommy responded. "You going to be okay, Rocky?"
"I'll be fine. Now that I'm not Blue Ranger anymore, that Rygog dude won't be after me. You go on."
"All right. We've left you a communicator on your bedside table. Give us a call if you need us. We're gonna go." In two streaks of colored light, David and Tommy disappeared.
Beneath the gurney, the three kids sat in shock. "Rocky's a Power Ranger?" Rosa asked at last. "The blue one? No way. He's too much of a doof."
"Got another explanation?" Franklin asked. Suddenly he realized that Justin was no longer under the stretcher with them. Slipping out, the two of them found the young genius examining the wristband by Rocky's bed.
"This must be the communicator they left him. I think I can use this to hack into the computers at that "Power Chamber" they went to. Go get Fred and Tasha. We need them in here now. I'll be under the bed, where the doctors won't find me." So saying, Justin grabbed Rocky's communicator and slipped under the bed.
Frank and Rosa had a hard time, but they finally managed to sneak Fred and Tasha into the ICU as well. Sneaking into Rocky's room, the four of them joined Justin under the bed. "What have you got?" Fred asked, without preamble. Someone who had known Jason and Billy during their first days as Rangers would have found the scene awfully familiar.
"I'm in. Patching through now." Suddenly a group of well-known voices came through the computer.
"Zordon, what do we do?" Skull asked desperately. "What would Divatox want with Jason and Kim?"
"Skull's a Power Ranger?" Frank asked incredulously. "No way!"
"Shh!" Fred motioned for him to be quiet.
"I am afraid that Divatox intends to use them as sacrifices to free her fiance, Maligore. If the two of them join forces, the world as we know it is doomed."
Frank's eyes widened at the next voice. "So where are they now?" Adam asked.
"I've been tracking them." Billy responded, causing Justin to gasp. "Divatox apparently has them in a submarine heading for someplace called the Nemesis Triangle. It's an area of ocean in the Pacific that leads to the pocket dimension in which Muranthias is located. Normally it's closed, but the hole has just opened again. We've created a way to pass through the Nemesis Triangle, so we can get to the island. We just have to hope we can take on Divatox and stop her before she releases Maligore."
"There are fourteen of us!" Kat cried. "We darn well better be able to stop her!"
"Zordon, what about those Turbo Rangers?" Zack asked. "Are they good guys or bad guys? Are we going to have to worry about fighting them or anything?"
"I cannot tell you that, Zachary. There is nothing in my files on the power of Turbo, although the energy signatures I picked up from them are similar to Lerigot's Golden Key, which is now in the hands of Divatox. It is what she will use to open the gate to Muranthias. I have duplicated the signature for your portal key, and I do not doubt that she could do the same."
"So these guys could work for Divatox," Trini mused.
"Or they may have been recruited by Lerigot, in which case, they will be your allies. You must be careful, Rangers. I have no idea whose side they may be on."
"You okay?" Lillian's voice asked sympathetically.
Jamie chuckled. "Yeah, Lil, I'm fine. God knows, we've been through worse. Zordon, is Rocky going to be all right? I mean, with Rita, Mondo, and Gasket still out there, leaving him alone is not exactly a good idea."
A voice that was unfamiliar to the five listening children responded to that. "Don't worry about that, Jamie. I've taken care of the situation."
"And just how did you do that, Trey?" Katarina asked, the arch of her eyebrow evident in her tone.
"I contacted Dr. Kino," Trey responded. "She'll be watching over him. If worst comes to worst, she can teleport him here."
"Besides," a high-pitched voice broke in, "we will be monitoring him at all times, Rangers. Rocky will be well-protected."
"We can always count on you, can't we, Alpha?" Justin identified this voice as Christina, Billy's girlfriend.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" David asked. "Let's get to that island and rescue our friends."
"I will teleport you to the ocean, where the Ghost Galleon awaits you. It will transport you through the Nemesis Triangle, and is completely undetectable by Divatox's scanners. Good luck, and may the Power protect you."
"I'm reading a teleportation beam!" Justin exclaimed. "Tracking, tracking,- got it! Coordinates locked!"
"Good," Fred responded. "Justin, are those Zords ready?"
"Yeah, any time you want them. Why?"
"Can you modify them to run under the water?"
"They've already got a submarine mode. Why?"
"We're going to morph and teleport to the same coordinates that the Rangers went to. Divatox is our responsibility as well, and we can't let them handle her alone. We've got a galleon to follow."
Placing Rocky's communicator back on the bedside table, Justin stuck the computer back into its pocket. Then, still under the bed, the five teens looked at each other. "Shift into Turbo!" Fred cried.
Rocky woke up for a second at the noises under his bed, but since he couldn't identify them, he soon dropped back into sleep again. He never even noticed the five showers of colored sparks streaking out of his room.
* * *
The sun was setting as the Rangers boarded the Ghost Galleon. Making their way on board, they were understandably nervous at the number of skeletons on the deck. "I wonder what happened to them all," Kat mused.
"Personally, I don't want to find out," Adam replied. Billy, listening to them, suddenly dropped his head into his hands with a grunt of pain.
"Billy?" Tommy asked, immediately coming to his friend's side. "What's the matter?"
"I don't know!" Billy cried. "This keeps happening to me! Usually I hear this word, 'Ninjetti.' The only problem is, I don't know what it means! The first time you morphed into the Green Warrior, I heard it, and then again when we were fighting the Skeletiger. I had a vision of you, me, Kim, Aisha, Adam, and Rocky, all in outfits just like yours, but in our Ninja Ranger colors. You were on the back of a big dinosaur skeleton! Now, I had a flashback to Adam and Kimberly talking about a heap of dinosaur skeletons, saying the same things Adam and Kat were saying just now."
Tommy reached out with his magical powers, scanning Billy for any signs of a spell. "No magic, exactly, but there's some sort of energy. I just don't understand it. Maybe you should go back and talk to Zordon."
Billy shook his head. "No, the pain's gone. I'm all right. It doesn't happen very often. I'll be fine."
Tommy sighed and returned to examining the ship. Billy, however, was still jumpy. He vividly remembered that right after Adam and Kimberly had said those things, there had come an attack. He wasn't sure if he was having deja vu, or some sort of premonition, but he found it impossible to relax. Somehow, he was sure something was going to come.
As it turned out, he was right. With a shrieking sound, something gossamer-thin detached itself from the mast and swooped down on the Rangers. The teens lost no time in hitting the deck.
"What the hell was that!" Jamie cried.
"They don't call this the Ghost Galleon for nothing, honey!" shot back Tanya.
"Great!" David groused. "How do we fight a ghost?"
"Better make that 'ghosts', plural," gulped Zack, pointing behind him. Another wispy spirit was approaching from the stern. This one was a little more visible, and seemed to consist of a skull and white, gauzy ectoplasm. Red light burned in the eyepits of the skull, and it was screaming like a banshee.
"Oh, pleasant thought," Trini mumbled to herself, remembering exactly what the cry of the banshee signified. Looking towards the bow, she saw two more rising up, readying for the attack.
"We got company!" Skull yelled. "Three more, approaching from the port side!"
"Do we morph?" Kat cried, ducking a ghost's swoop.
"What good would it do?" Trey answered practically. "Heads up! Here they come!" The seven spirits began to circle the teens, swooping in at them. The fourteen Rangers had double the number of their attackers, but that didn't seem to matter. There was little they could do to defend themselves.
"They're dead, right?" Lillian called. "What can they do to us?" She was answered when one of the circling skulls swooped down and knocked into her. It looked as if it were trying to merge with her, but black light surrounding her made that impossible. Instead, it settled for trying to knock her into the water.
"I've got you!" Tommy cried, snagging her hand. He quickly reeled her back onto solid decking. "Are you all right?"
"He slimed me, Ray," she grinned, quoting from Ghostbusters. Tommy chuckled, realizing that she was not hurt. "No, I'm serious. Look." She pointed at a large patch of ectoplasm on her shirt. "I think it was trying to possess me. That's what they want, bodies. The Shadow power held it off, but I don't know how long it's going to last." Suddenly, she grabbed Tommy's head and pulled him down as a skull dive-bombed them.
"We have to figure out some way to take them down. But how do you hurt a ghost?"
"Unfinished business," Lillian breathed. "They're protecting something, something on the ship. If we could only figure out what!"
"Too bad they don't have vocal cords. Then we could just ask them." Tommy cocked his head to one side. "Maybe I have an idea."
Meanwhile, things were not going so well for the other Rangers. Skulls were knocking them right and left, sliming them badly. For some reason, most of them had focused on Kat, who was now covered in ectoplasm. It dripped off her, coating her blond hair and soaking her pink T-shirt and jean shorts. They were also paying Jamie a great deal of attention, but she was more adept at dodging that Kat. Skull, in contrast, was almost ignored by his namesakes, a condition that amused him no end. The only spots of ectoplasm on him were from the times he pushed the others out of the way.
"Hold it!" Tommy's commanding baritone cut through the air, stopping all of the fight's participants, human and not. "That's enough! We want to help you, but we need to know what you want. We'll give you the means, but you have to tell us how." He stepped out into the center of the deck, closing his eyes. The skulls hovered in the air for a long moment, then one swooped over to Tommy and slid into his chest. His body shook, and when his eyes opened, they were no longer his. Instead, they were a piercing blue.
"My thanks to ye, Tommy Oliver, for the loan of yer body," he said. The Rangers listened, marveling at the way even his speech had changed, although the voice was still Tommy's. "I am Captain Morgan, the skipper of this ship. Her name's the Dragon, by the way. A long time ago, we were hired to transport a rare idol from one port to another. But the idol was cursed, and the curse fell upon us. We were condemned to wander the ocean forever, seven skulls on a ship that would not decay, until someone living could rid us of the idol. But devoid of speech, we could not tell anyone what we needed, and they ran in terror. We sail our old route, looking for someone to remove the curse. Please, throw the idol overboard, and let us rest in peace! Our ship will then take ye to yer destination." With that, the captain's eyes slipped shut, and the spirit left Tommy's body. He opened his eyes and shook his head.
"Whoa, that was intense." Looking around the bow of the boat, he found the gold box that the captain had shown him mentally. Picking it up, he hurled it into the ocean. As soon as it splashed into the water, the skulls shrieked and disappeared in a flash of bright light.
"Wow," Tommy shook his head. "That was strange."
"It's not over yet," Adam told him. "Look, the compass is moving."
"The sails are going up by themselves!" Trey cried. Slowly, the ship began to move, catching the breeze and moving out to sea.
"Does anybody have any dry clothes?" Kat asked in a small, miserable voice. She was still covered with ectoplasm, although most of it had evaporated from the other Rangers without a trace.
"You really got soaked, didn't you?" David inquired sympathetically. "Come on down into the hold. We can probably find something for you to wear down there. If not, my shirt's long enough for a mini-dress. Your clothes will dry eventually." The two of them headed off down the stairs, and the other Rangers began to settle in on the ship. None of them noticed the five Turbo Zords following the galleon at a safe distance.
* * *
"How are you feeling?" Tanya asked Kat sympathetically. David's shirt fit Kat like a tent, but it did come down to her knees. She held it in with David's belt, which he had insisted he did not need to hold up his jeans, and she looked strange.
"Awful. I don't know if this stuff will ever come out. I guess they thought I was a good candidate for possession, huh?" Kat smiled one-sidedly. "I'm just lucky that my underwear is dry, and that David has a long torso. All my height's in my legs, so the shirt's long enough to be a dress."
"Come on up on deck. It's a great evening." Tanya smiled mischievously. "And David will be there to keep the guys from ogling you."
Kat laughed aloud. "You have a point," she conceded. "All right." The two of them headed up onto the deck. The night was warm and fragrant, and most of the Rangers had decided to sleep out on the deck. Although David, looking at Kat in nothing but his shirt and a pair of her underwear, was not sure he would be able to sleep much, if at all. Kat had much the same thoughts, looking at David, who was only clad in his tank top and jeans. Sitting next to him, she snuggled into his side, and he draped his arm around her.
"It's peaceful, isn't it?" Trini sighed. "The stars are gorgeous."
"Yeah," Zack replied. "Almost makes me wish this was a pleasure trip, and I was out here with Angela."
Tommy chuckled. "Yeah, well, I've got my girlfriend with me." Zack and Trey growled at him good-naturedly, the former sticking out his tongue as well.
"Speaking of girlfriends," Billy murmured, "has anyone seen Jamie?"
"No. Skull doesn't seem to be around either," Lillian responded, concerned. "Do you think they're all right?"
"Yeah, I saw them after the fight with the ghosts, so they didn't get left behind," answered Tanya. "They're probably worrying about Jason and Kim."
"I'll go talk to them," Christina sighed, getting to her feet. "Knowing them, they probably won't even sleep unless they absolutely have to." Walking towards the bow of the boat, she saw two shapes looking out over the water. "Jamie? Skull? Are you two all right?"
"We're fine, Chris," Jamie sighed. "We're just worried."
"I know, we all are. You need to sleep, though. Come back to the rest of the group."
"How can we? Kim and Jason are out there somewhere, a sacrifice for a monster with the munchies, and we're supposed to sleep?" Skull cried. There was no real anger in his tone, though.
"Yes, or you'll be no use to them when we catch up," Christina told him firmly. The two of them nodded sheepishly, and followed her back to where the other Rangers waited.
* * *
"We're approaching the Nemesis Triangle," Justin transmitted. Once inside their Zords, the five Rangers had morphed back into their normal forms, finding them more comfortable for the long journey. They had also found what Justin called "food replicators," so they had not been hungry on their voyage. Now, in the water ahead of them, they saw a wall of black energy roiling in front of them. The galleon they were following was sliding through, surrounded by strange lights. Fred swallowed.
"How do we get through that?" he asked incredulously.
"The Turbo Zords have the correct energy signature to pass through the barrier without a problem," Justin responded. He sounded far too blase about the whole thing for Fred's comfort. "We just drive on through. It may be a bumpy ride, though. If we don't hit it fast, and I mean fast, well, ever hit a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour?"
"Great. Okay, everybody, fasten your seat belts!" Fred called. "Ready for impact?"
"Wind Chaser, ready!" Rosa responded.
"Mountain Blaster, ready!" shot back Justin.
"Desert Thunder, ready!" Frank grumbled. He was still a little upset about driving a mini-van.
"Dune Star, ready!" replied Tasha.
"And Red Lightning is ready, too," finished Fred. "Let's make tire tracks. Kick it into Turbogear!" Simultaneously, the five pulled back on their gearshifts, throwing the Zords forward at incredible speeds. Before they even knew it, they had hit the wall and were through. As they applied the brakes, they looked around themselves in astonishment.
"We did it," Frank whispered.
"Yahoo!" cried Justin, startling them all. "What a ride!"
The Turbo Rangers laughed. "Come on, guys, let's get going," Fred grinned. "Follow that galleon." The five Zords took off again, this time at a more sedate speed.
* * *
The galleon made it to the island of Muranthias without incident, but the Rangers were still wary. The boat was still two hundred yards away from shore when Tommy called them all together. "Guys, Divatox is probably expecting party crashers, and I'm sure she's left us some presents. I want everybody to go over the side, and we'll swim in. I know we'll get soaked, and it's not exactly comfortable, but I'd rather not get blown up as well."
The others nodded. "Right." Quickly, the Rangers slipped into the water and headed for the island.
On Divatox's submarine, the alarms were going crazy. "I detect fourteen life forms, but no sign of a vehicle!" Elgar cried.
"What are they, swimming?" shot back Divatox. "They've got to be riding something! Maybe some torpedoes will find out what."
Jason and Kimberly, both chained in one corner of the main room, regarded each other with alarm. "No!" Jason cried, jerking at his chains. "You can't!"
Divatox turned to him, smiling cruelly. "Just watch me," she replied, in a low, sultry tone. "I can do whatever I want, and there's nothing you can do about it." Jerking his head up, she kissed him. Finally breaking the lip-lock, she regarded him hungrily. "Too bad I can't play with you," she sighed, looking him over. "Unfortunately, I don't want to break you before you're fed to Maligore. After that, though, you're fair game." The predatory smile on her lips sent shivers down Jason's spine. Releasing him, she turned back to her crew. "Elgar! Fire torpedoes!"
A pair of torpedoes streaked from the ship, heading towards the galleon. Divatox, her crew, and her two captives watched as the underwater missiles struck the ship and exploded, blowing it into a million pieces.
"NOOO!" Kimberly cried. "Skull! Tommy!" She began to sob into Jason's shoulder. He held her, awkwardly trying to comfort her. Shutting his eyes, he bowed his head in memory of his friends.
* * *
"What the hell was that?" Rosa asked, as the shockwave from the blast rocked the Wind Chaser.
"Two torpedoes just detonated," Frank shot back, looking over his console. "The galleon is- gone."
"I'm reading fourteen life forms on shore," Tasha continued. "Looks like they all made it out."
"Excellent!" Fred cried. "Let's follow them, but carefully. I don't want them to attack us because they think that we're the bad guys."
The five Turbo Rangers followed the Zeos and Morphin Warriors at a safe distance, until the jungle became too thick to drive through. Parking the Zords, they huddled together for a strategy session.
"I say we morph. It'll keep us safe, keep our identities secret, and help us to kick any alien butt we need to," Fred told them.
"Sounds good. As Turbo Rangers, we can run almost as fast as our cars go, but go a lot more places," Justin agreed.
"So what are we waiting for?" Tasha asked, folding her arms across her chest. "Let's go!"
"Shift into Turbo!" Fred called. In a flash, the five became the Turbo Rangers, and headed off through the jungle.
* * *
"Kat, you okay?" David asked sympathetically, helping her over a fallen tree.
"I'm fine, David," she sighed. "It's just that I had just gotten my clothes dry, and now I'm all wet again. And this time, there's salt in my underwear!"
Despite himself, David chuckled. Kat regarded him exasperatedly for a moment, then laughed along with him. "I guess that did sound pretty funny," she admitted. "So how are you doing? I've never been sure whether you like being a Ranger or not. I mean, you're always willing to fill in for someone who needs it, but you're always adamant about giving the power back as soon as possible. Why is that?"
David smiled. "Well, there are a couple of reasons. One, I like being a Ranger, but I've seen what it does to your life. It plays hell with relationships, with family and friends. I like to make a difference, but I don't want my life destroyed while I do it. The second thing is, I've seen the way the power affects people. You, Tommy, Rocky, you can't give it up. It's an addiction, and I can understand why. The power to help, the power to make a change, the rush of the energy, the adrenaline of battle, they're all so easy to get addicted to. I can't take these things away from someone who needs them so badly. Besides, I kind of want to avoid the addiction myself. I couldn't take the letdown that'll come, sooner or later."
"Yeah, no kidding. We're all going off to college in less than a month. I can't imagine what it's going to be like to give the power up to a replacement."
"How do you find one, anyway? I mean, I know how I wound up drawn into this, but there have been so many of you. You can't all have been kidnapped by monsters and have figured out the Rangers' identities."
"Oh no?" Kat grinned. "Tommy was told by Rita when she made him her Green Ranger. Rocky, Adam, and Aisha were kidnapped by Zedd, who wanted to turn them evil. They found out the Ranger's identities when Billy was choking and Tommy and Kim were forced to remove his helmet. I was kidnapped by Rita and told the Ranger's identities, and Aisha told Tanya about them because she needed someone to take the crystal home. Katarina was kidnapped by Mondo's android, who spilled the beans on Rocky and Skull was kidnapped by Goldar, although he'd already figured out the Ranger's identities before that happened. I'd say it's a pretty common thread."
David shook his head. "Wow. That's pretty impressive. But what are you going to do about replacing an entire team? I mean, that's a lot of people."
"Well, the Morphin Warrior powers can't be transferred from person to person, so they can't be replaced. Trey will keep his powers and stay around to help out, and Lillian's powers will go with her to Crossworld City. Neither she nor Jamie can give the powers to someone else. Jamie's going to Angel Grove University, so she'll be around if she's needed. We'll only have to replace seven rangers, not ten."
"Still, seven people's a fair amount. Have you been looking?"
"Sort of, but we really haven't found anything. We've still got time, I suppose."
"Pipe down back there!" Tommy called from the head of the line. "We're almost to the temple." Instantly the team went quiet, not wanting to alert Divatox to their arrival.
"There it is," Tommy pointed as the others caught up to him. "Let's go." Silently, they headed towards the massive stone structure.
* * *
"Just hanging around?" Divatox asked, laughing cruelly up at Jason and Kimberly. The two of them were handcuffed and tied to a large rope that was dangling them over a large volcanic pit in the center of the temple. Jason sneaked a quick look at Kimberly, as best he could over his shoulder. She was still in the almost catatonic state she had inhabited since the ship exploded. She didn't speak or respond to anything anyone said, simply stared straight ahead. Jason knew how she felt. His mind kept replaying the scene of the galleon bursting into flames over and over, until he, too, felt like curling up in a corner. Unlike Kim, though, he would not do that until he had avenged his friends' deaths.
"You won't get away with this, Divatox," he told her calmly. Despite his cliche words, the cold lack of emotion in his voice made the pirate shiver.
"And just why not?" she drawled, trying to cover the momentary surge of fear his words had given her. "Who's going to stop me? Zordon's stuck in his tube, your Power Ranger friends are dead, and you're chained to a rope, about to become lunch for my fiance. What makes you think anyone is going to come to your aid?"
Jason smiled coldly. "I didn't say that. I don't expect to come out of this. Somehow, though, someone will stop you. It's the way things work. Even if you kill every single Power Ranger on Earth, someone will rise up against you, and in the end, you'll fall. Your kind always fall."
"Spare me the melodrama," she sighed. "We've got better things to do. Maligore! Great flame of destruction, come forth! I have sacrifices for you, strong and pure. Come forth! Feed upon their purity and twist their souls to evil!"
Jason struggled helplessly against his bonds as he began to lower, slowly, inorexably, towards the pit. "Kim, snap out of it!" he cried. "Kim, come on!" There was no response. She simply hung there as they headed for the molten rock below.
Jason Scott was not a religious person, really. He had never seen much need for it, beyond a basic belief that something was out there, something inherently good that watched over the universe. He hadn't been to church in three years, except for Christmas, Easter, and Mother's Day. Now, however, he closed his eyes and began to pray in earnest, not only for himself, but for Kimberly and the rest of the world as well.
"Did we miss the party?" a familiar voice asked, snapping Jason out of his fear-induced stupor. Red Ranger stood in the middle of the floor, arms crossed lazily over his chest. Anger radiated from his entire body. Behind him, the rest of the Rangers, all morphed, were eyeing Divatox's Piranhatrons warily, although the fish were too stunned to attack at the moment.
"Tommy!" Jason cried. "Are we ever glad to see you!" Behind him, Kim began to stir.
"Tommy?" she murmured. "No. You're dead." Tears filled her eyes as she looked at him.
Red Ranger's voice was warm as he replied. "Now, Kim. You know me better than that. We swam ashore. There was no one on the ship when it blew."
"Tommy! Skull! You're alive!" she shouted. "Get us down from here!"
Skull chuckled. "Comes right to the point, doesn't she?" He judged the distance between himself and Rygog, who was still lowering Jason and Kim into the pit. "I think I can handle tall, fanged, and ugly over there. You guys try and get to Jason and Kim."
Red Ranger nodded. "Right. Let's kick some scale!"
The scene that followed was impossible to describe, but two words came close: utter chaos. Elgar and the Piranhatrons outnumbered the rangers by about four to one, but the Rangers had experience in fighting enemies much more numerous than they. Skull was unstoppable, a white-clad juggernaut carving a path through the Piranhatrons with his saber. Hacking and slashing, he fought his way closer to Rygog, an expression of pure rage on his features.
Meanwhile, Purple Ranger and Black Ranger had teamed up, and the Piranhatrons were getting clobbered. The two girls moved in almost perfect synchronization, hacking, thrusting, slashing, and whacking. Over on the other side of the room, the other female Rangers had wound up dealing with a school of Piranhatrons which seemed less interested in battle than other types of "action." Since they were concentrating more on disarming the girls than harming them, the amorous villains were getting their butts kicked.
Blue and Gold Rangers were back-to-back with Billy and Zack, sending Piranhatrons flying in every direction. Billy had also frozen a few of them with his Ice Laser. All around them, the battle raged. In the center of the room, Red and Green Rangers were fighting to get through the Piranhatrons and reach the winch that held the rope. Skull was still fighting with Rygog, holding his own. Unfortunately, he couldn't get to the rope, and it was still slowly lowering into the pit.
"Let's speed this up, shall we?" Divatox smiled. Throwing a lever that stood to one side of her, she laughed as Jason and Kim plummeted into the pit.
"NO!" Red Ranger, Purple Ranger, and Skull cried in unison, throwing themselves towards the edge of the pit. Suddenly a gout of flame billowed out from it, hurling them back. When the flames cleared, Jason and Kimberly were standing on the edge of the volcano.
"Kim?" Skull whispered, hardly daring to believe it. The two teens turned around, and the assembled Rangers gasped. Jason and Kimberly's eyes were now blood red, and the expressions on their faces were cold and emotionless. Raising their hands in front of their faces, they snapped the chains holding their wrists together with ease.
"Maligore's children, arise!" Divatox cried. "Destroy those who would threaten your master!"
With a pair of impressive flips, Jason and Kimberly leaped down from the side of the pit. "Kimberly," Skull pleaded, rising slowly to his feet, "you have to fight it. Fight the evil inside you!"
"Evil is like evil does," Kimberly replied. Her voice was low and husky, different than he'd ever heard it. She was advancing on him, and he was backing up, unwilling to fight her. She took the decision out of his hands when she spin kicked him, knocking him out of her way. Smiling evilly, she continued to advance on Kat.
Jason, meanwhile, had instantly targeted Red Ranger. The two of them had been engaging in friendly competition for years, ever since Tommy had joined the team. Now, under the spell, Jason's only thought was to destroy the Ranger who could destroy him. He would prove who was the better man once and for all. The two of them fought back and forth, neither gaining the upper hand. For all Jason's strength, Red Ranger was quicker, and the bigger boy's powerful strikes did little good if they didn't connect. Red Ranger was tiring, though, and it was only a matter of time before he was too slow to get out of the way.
The other Rangers were still dealing with the Piranhatrons, and it looked as if they were winning. Suddenly, though, the room began to shake and another gout of flame spat out of the pit, drawing everyone's attention back to it. The fights were forgotten as the combatants watched in awe and terror as a wickedly clawed hand, made out of solid and molten rock, landed on the edge. Then, slowly and deliberately, Maligore pulled himself out of the volcano.
He was a terrifying sight, standing seven feet tall and almost three feet wide. Red eyes glowed in his eye sockets and his face resembled that of the sea monsters in old horror movies, except that there was no denying he was real. A set of incredibly sharp teeth completed the picture.
"At last, I am free!" Maligore cried, stretching. Blue Ranger thought vaguely to himself that this was the last straw his sanity could take. He had expected the creature, if it could talk at all, to have a loud, rumbling voice, like an erupting volcano. Instead, Maligore's voice was deep and rich, almost pleasant to listen to.
"Divatox, my dear, I commend you on your efforts to free me. In return, we shall be wed as soon as possible," Maligore said. Divatox flushed and bowed. Then the molten being walked over to where Kim and Jason stood, regarding the Rangers contemptuously. "And the two of you shall have great power as well. I'm sure I can think of excellent rewards for you." He turned to Jason. "You shall command my armies in my conquest of this planet." Jason bowed, a cold smile on his face. "And you," he said, turning to Kimberly, "shall have a place of great honor by my side. Not as my wife, of course, but the post of first concubine is hardly a lowly one."
At the word "concubine," Skull and Red Ranger had both stepped forward, growling under their breath. Before Skull could move, however, Red Ranger had launched himself forward, slamming into a startled Maligore with all his strength. The volcanic monster reeled back, falling back into the volcano from which it had emerged. For a long moment, all was still.
Suddenly, with a mighty roar, Maligore leaped up out of the sea of molten rock. Slamming into Red Ranger, he knocked him to the ground, shattering his helmet against the floor. "I am not so easily defeated," he sneered. "Power down, Rangers, or I gut your leader from throat to belly."
The Rangers exchanged helpless looks, then as one powered down. As the Piranhatrons circled them, weapons at the ready, they slowly raised their hands.
"Power down, Red Ranger," Maligore grinned. "Unless you'd like to see them all destroyed?"
Tommy regarded the monster coolly for a second, then returned to his normal attire. Maligore hauled him up, shoving him towards the others. "Now, Rangers," the molten being mused, "what shall I do with you?"
* * *
"Okay, Fearless Leader," Yellow Turbo asked sarcastically, "what do we do now?" The five Turbos had crept up through a passage in the rock just in time to hear Maligore's ultimatum.
Red Turbo cocked his head, a frown evident in his voice. "I don't know. All I do know is that the five of us can't just rush in there. We'd get killed, and the Rangers probably would, too. We need a plan. Spread out, surround the temple. There look to be at least five entrances to this place. Wait for my signal. When I beep you on the Helmetcoms, we'll rush in, but not before." He looked directly at Blue and Yellow Turbos. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal," Blue Turbo replied seriously. "We're on it." Four of the Rangers headed back out of the passage, leaving Red Turbo to watch the events inside with growing concern.
Maligore was inspecting the Rangers smugly, pacing back and forth in front of him as they all glared. "At long last, I will have my revenge on Zordon of Eltare! He and that miserable Lerigot imprisoned me in that volcano centuries ago! Now I am released, and I have found the perfect vengeance on Zordon. I will destroy his Power Rangers utterly!"
"Better goons than you have tried to kill us," Tommy scoffed, "and we're all still here."
"Oh, but I don't intend to kill you, Rangers," Maligore chuckled. "At least, not all of you. I have far more entertaining plans in mind than that." So saying, he turned to Jason and Kimberly, who still watched their imprisoned friends with those impassive red eyes. "My children, as a reward for your faithful service, you may each choose one Ranger to do with as you wish. Jason? Which Ranger is yours?"
Jason walked up and down the line of captive Rangers for a long moment. He looked at Tommy, an evil grin lighting his features, then shook his head. "No," he rasped. "As much as I would like to destroy you, Ranger, I won't waste my reward on so fleeting a pleasure." He moved on until he was face to face with Jamie. One hand shot out and buried itself in her hair. Pulling her close, he crushed her to him and gave her a long, passionate kiss.
When he finally released her, Jamie looked up into her boyfriend's eyes, searching for any hint of the man she knew behind his blood-red eyes. All she saw was evil. "Jason," she whispered. "Please, don't."
He chuckled coldly. "You are mine, Jamie. Begging won't do much good, although it'll be interesting to hear it from your lips. You've always been so proud and self-sufficient. It'll be fun to see how much breaks you."
Maligore nodded. "If she is the reward you choose, you shall have her. I'll even give you some time to play with her before we throw her into the fire. After that, though, I think she'll succumb to my power most nicely." With an evil smile, the molten monster turned to Kim. "And you, my dear. Which one do you chose?"
Her choice was made far more quickly than Jason's. Immediately she crossed to where Skull was being guarded by several Piranhatrons. "This one," she hissed. "I choose him."
"I am afraid not," Maligore responded. "He is protected by the White. Too pure to succumb to my power, and too dangerous to leave free-minded. I'm afraid we'll just have to kill him. The purity in him would cause the fire to self-destruct. Pick another."
Kimberly cocked her head, regarding the line of captives. Then, with a smile, she pointed to Tommy. "Him, then. I'll take him."
"The hell you will," Lillian spat. "I'll kick your butt into next Tuesday, friend or not."
Maligore chuckled. "I think I'll put you and your boyfriend into the fire, and you and Kimberly can fight over him. Won't that be entertaining?" Turning away, he gestured to the Piranhatrons. "Separate the Red and Black Rangers from the group." The fish-men did so roughly, pulling Tommy and Lillian out of the line. Then Maligore strolled along the line himself.
"Some of you will join my ranks," he told them. "The pit will allow the evil in your hearts, small as it may be, to take over. Some of you, however, are not worth the effort. I'm afraid I'll just have to kill you." Walking down the line, he stopped in front of Adam and Tanya.
"You two are so much wasted effort. I'd be out of my mind to bother with you." Moving on, he came to Kat. "You on the other hand, Pink Ranger, have much delicious darkness in your heart. You will be an excellent warrior for my cause." His voice lowered, and he grabbed her chin in one clawed hand. "And you are quite lovely, as well. Perhaps I will make use of you in a more- personal sense."
With a low growl, David knocked Maligore's hand away from Kat's face. "Touch her, and I will personally turn you into rubble," the young man snarled.
"Now, what to do with you?" Maligore mused. "There's no evil in you as there is in the Red Ranger. I suppose I'll just have to destroy you. Perhaps I'll do it myself, or better yet, have your lovely girlfriend do it."
"Wait," Divatox interrupted, stepping forward. "I have a better idea. Give him to me. He's helpless without his powers, so we just take those away. I have some marvelous uses for him planned." She looked him up and down, hunger evident in her gaze. Maligore regarded her for a second, then nodded.
"All right, my dear, as you will." Two more Piranhatrons grabbed David and Kat, hauling them over to where Tommy and Lillian stood. The rest of Maligore's inspection was uneventful, as he passed up the rest of the team as "too good for his purposes." Turning to his assorted followers, he raised his arms. "First, we bring these three Rangers over to us. Then we'll let them destroy their friends. Zordon's Rangers will be no more, destroyed by their own, and I will finally have my revenge!"
"I don't think so, ugly," an unfamiliar voice called out. Maligore whirled to see Red Turbo standing behind him, Turbo Lightning Sword at the ready.
"You're going down!" another voice cried. The assembled villains looked to their left to see Green Turbo, his Thunder Cannon pointed directly into their midst.
"We'll turn you into so much gravel!" threatened a third voice. Once again, the assembly turned to see a Turbo Ranger. This time, Yellow Turbo was leaning nonchalantly against a boulder, her Star Charges aimed at them.
A fourth voice came from yet another section of the chamber. "We're the Turbo Rangers, defenders of Earth!" Blue Turbo yelled, readying his Hand Blasters.
"Let our friends go!" finished Pink Turbo, aiming her Wind Fire directly at Maligore's head. The lava creature realized he and his forces were surrounded.
"So," Maligore growled, sounding more demonic than ever, "Lerigot has found someone to pass the powers onto. Well, your tenure will not last long. Piranhatrons! Destroy them!"
The fish creatures moved to do Maligore's bidding. Tommy, realizing the confusion that surrounded the Rangers, called out to his friends. "It's morphin time!"
With twenty-one fighters, the odds were far more even. Red Ranger immediately found himself tangling with Jason once again, while Kimberly and Black Ranger were trying to kill each other. Pink Ranger had targeted Divatox, who was fighting back, but not very efficiently. Purple Ranger, Blue Ranger, and Skull had their sights set on Maligore, and among the three of them were keeping him fairly busy. Green and Yellow Rangers were beset with Piranhatrons, and rather surprised when Green and Pink Turbos came to their rescue.
"Thanks," Green Ranger panted, smashing a Piranhatron into a nearby wall.
"Don't mention it," Green Turbo returned, sending another flying with a well-placed spin kick.
Gold Ranger and Trini were fighting Rygog, while White Ranger and Billy took on Elgar. Both groups received some unexpected help, as Blue Turbo noticed that the rope used to lower Jason and Kim into the volcano was just dangling there. Checking to make sure that it was anchored, he leaped into the air. With a Tarzan yell, he plowed into Rygog, knocking him into Elgar. Landing lightly on his feet, he joined the fight.
Meanwhile, Zack, Silver Ranger, and Yellow Turbo were handling the mob of Piranhatrons attacking them with ease. The three of them punched, kicked, and moved as if they had been working together for years.
Jason was beating the living daylights out of Red Ranger, mainly due to Red Ranger's desire not to hurt his best friend. The bigger boy had the Ranger backed up all the way to the edge of the volcano, but showed no desire to push him in, preferring instead to throttle him. Suddenly a smaller blur of red plowed into Jason, knocking him off his quarry. "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?" Red Turbo asked hotly. With a cold laugh, Jason backhanded the shorter Turbo Ranger, sending him flying across the room into a wall. He struck it hard, slid down to the floor, and lay still.
"NOOO!" Red Ranger yelled, charging Jason. The other was ready for this move, however, and caught the charging boy, pushing him back until they were leaning over the pit.
"Out of the frying pan, into the fire," Jason whispered. However, he still seemed to be fighting the urge to drop Red Ranger into the volcano.
_If he drops me, it'll seal him to evil for the rest of his life,_ Red Ranger thought. _He won't be able to face himself otherwise. I can't let that happen._
"I won't let you blame yourself for this, Jason," Red Ranger said in a low tone. "I won't let you force me into the fire. I choose it myself." With a mighty shove, Red Ranger hurled himself out of Jason's grip, directly back into the volcano.
"Tommy!" Jason screamed, reaching out helplessly to his falling friend. He wasn't quick enough, however, and Red Ranger fell by him. All the red left Jason's eyes as he stumbled back from the pit, not wanting to watch as the other hit the magma below.
Suddenly, a huge gout of flame spurted out of the volcano and a shockwave of pure white light seemed to fill the room. Kimberly, still embroiled in her battle with Black Ranger, stopped, shaking her head.
"Lillian?" she asked. "Oh, my God, what have I done?"
Black Ranger, seeing that the red light was gone from her friend's eyes, just shook her head. "It's over now." Suddenly she looked over at Jason. "Wait a minute. Where's Tommy?"
She was never answered. Maligore suddenly threw back his head and screamed. "No! The Pit of Eternal Fire! The source of my powers! NOOOOOOO!" As the Rangers watched, his solid rock body began to liquefy and run across the floor, hissing steam as it went. Soon Maligore, the great flame of destruction, was just a little puddle of cooling basalt.
Divatox regarded the Rangers nervously. "Rygog! Elgar! Piranhatrons!" she shouted. "Let's get out of here! I'll deal with you another time, Rangers."
"Yeah, we'll be waiting, Divatox!" Green Turbo shouted back. "All of us." As she ran out the door, Red Turbo came limping over to the other Rangers.
"Guys, where's Tommy?" he asked. "He was fighting with Jason, Jason backhanded me into a wall, and that's all I remember." In unison, everyone turned to Jason, who wore a look of utter devastation.
"He went into the volcano. He pushed himself back, so that I wasn't responsible for it. He sacrificed himself." Purple Ranger went up and put her arms around him, and he buried his head in her shoulder. Blue Turbo and Billy exchanged glances, and walked to the edge of the pit.
"Whoa!" Blue Turbo cried. "It's all gone cold!" It was true. All of the magma in the pit had changed to solid rock.
"I would theorize that Tommy's selfless act, made to save a friend, was good enough to nullify the evil in the pit," Billy said sadly.
"Tommy," Black Ranger whispered. A choking cough interrupted them.
"Someone call my name?" All nineteen Rangers whirled to see Red Ranger standing behind them, scorched and battered, but unmistakably alive.
"Tommy!" Jason and Black Ranger cried in unison, rushing him. "You're alive!"
"I'm not so sure of that," he replied sardonically. "I feel like I just went through the heart of a star."
"What happened?" Jason asked, still holding onto his friend's shoulder. "I saw you fall. How did you get out?"
Red Ranger shrugged. "I don't know. I blacked out before I hit the magma. Next thing I know, I was back there, listening to you all talking about me."
"Well, I'm not going to look a gift miracle in the mouth," Black Ranger smiled, hugging her boyfriend close. Suddenly Red Ranger's communicator beeped.
"We read you, Zordon. What's up?"
"Tommy, there is an emergency. Divatox is attacking Angel Grove. You must teleport back here immediately. Now that Maligore has been destroyed, the barrier against teleportation has been dropped."
"We'll be right there, Zordon. Can we bring the Turbo Rangers with us? They helped us in the fight against Maligore, and we'll probably need their help again."
"Yes, the Power Chamber should admit them if their Ranger powers are of the light. We will be waiting for your arrival."
"Let's go, guys," Red Ranger said. Red Turbo raised one hand.
"Hold up a minute." Quietly, he asked Blue Turbo, "What happens if we teleport without the Zords?"
"They'll just return to sub-space. They'll be fine."
Red Turbo nodded. "Okay, let's go." The Zeos and Turbos dropped their hands to their belts, while the Morphin Warriors raised their hands to the coins set into their chests. The sky was suddenly filled with sparkling lights as the Rangers teleported to the Power Chamber.
* * *
"Wow!" Blue Turbo cried, looking around the Power Chamber. "This place is incredible!" The Turbo Rangers were the only ones who had kept their helmets on once they entered the Power Chamber.
"Guess they still don't trust us," Tommy chuckled quietly. All mirth left as he turned to the viewing globe, however. A large metal dragon was displayed, happily chewing on some of the buildings in downtown Angel Grove. The viewpoint pulled back, revealing that the dragon was only one of four, each styled slightly differently from the others.
"Rangers, these are Divatox's Elemental Dragons. Each possesses the power of one of the elements of Alchemy. The Fire Dragon can shoot bursts of flame from its mouth, much like the dragon of Western myth." The globe showed a dragon built like the ones in the old fairy tales, four legs and two bat-like wings. It had a long neck and a spade-shaped tail. In color, however, it was a bright red.
"The Water Dragon is most at home in the water, able to fire torpedoes and a high-pressure jet of water from its mouth." This dragon most resembled the sea serpents drawn on the old maps of the world. It had no legs whatsoever, and looked most like a big snake. It was a deep blue color.
"This is the Earth Dragon, a strong, powerful fighter, equipped with blades on its arms." This dragon had four legs, but no wings whatsoever, and was a burnished golden color.
"The Air Dragon is quick and fierce, armed with arrow-like projectiles that can pierce even the armor of the Megazord." This final dragon, a pure white color, was not truly a dragon at all, but a wyvern, with only the two back legs and a pair of wings.
"Nasty," Jason grimaced.
"To make matters worse, Piranhatrons are attacking innocent civilians in the park." The viewing globe switched to show picnickers running in panic. "You must stop them."
"Those dragons are big. We're going to need Megazord power against them. Against all of them," Tommy said grimly.
"Oh yeah?" Adam asked. "Tommy, where on Earth are we going to get four Megazords?"
"We already have them," Blue Turbo broke in, drawing everyone's attention. "Well, not actually four Megazords, but we have three Megazords and one really big pyramid. Don't you Zeo Rangers have both a Zeo Megazord and a Super Zeo Megazord? And the Gold Ranger has Pyramidas, and we have the Turbo Megazord. That should do it."
"And we can handle the Piranhatrons in the park," Jason added. "I think he's got something."
"But we don't have pilots for the Super Zeo Megazord," Tommy replied, frustrated.
"Leave that to us," Lillian grinned. "We'll come up with something."
Tommy sighed. "Do I have a choice?" he asked rhetorically. "All right. Zeo Megazord will take on the Fire Dragon. We can handle the heat best."
"Pyramidas and I will handle the Earth Dragon," Trey volunteered. "We can match him strength for strength."
"And we'll take the Air Dragon," Pink Turbo added. "We're the fastest, and we'll need the speed."
"Super Zeo Megazord will take the Water Dragon when we get it up and running," Lillian finished. "You all go on. We'll handle this."
"It's morphin time!" Jason cried.
"Back to action!" Tommy cried. Soon the Morphin Warriors, the Turbo Rangers, and the first six Zeo Rangers were gone from the Power Chamber.
"Alpha, contact Lita," Lillian ordered. "We're going to need her help."
In a flash of light, Lita Kino was in the Power Chamber. "What is it?" she asked, concerned. "I left Bulk with Rocky, who's doing much better, by the way. What do you need me to do?"
"We've got four metal dragons tearing up downtown Angel Grove, and we're one pilot short of a Megazord," Lillian told the older woman soberly. "We need you."
Lita's eyes widened. "Don't you need powers to pilot a Zord? I mean, the reaction time, the sheer mass, must take a huge amount of power to control.
"We can rewire your Zord to accept commands from you," Alpha told her. "As for reaction times, your coin gives you almost as much of an edge there as a fully powered Ranger. You can do it, if you choose."
Lita smiled. "Hey, I've never been one to back away from a challenge. Let's do it."
"Very well," Zordon boomed. "Christina, you will pilot Super Zeo Zord I. Katarina, you will control Super Zeo Zord II. Jamie, I am placing you in command of Super Zeo Zord III. Lita, the Green Coin will give you the sympathy to pilot Super Zeo Zord IV. And finally, Lillian will control Super Zeo Zord V. Go now, and let the power protect you."
Lillian looked at her friends and shouted, "Back to action!"
* * *
"This guy is tough!" Red Ranger grunted, dodging one of the Fire Dragon's blasts. "Zeo Megazord Saber, now!" The sword coalesced in the Megazord's hands, blocking the next shot of flaming breath.
"You need a breath mint, buddy," Blue Ranger grumbled. "Tommy, we're heating up. I'm not sure how much more the Zord's cooling systems can take."
"We've got to figure out a way to take this guy down!" cried Red Ranger, ducking a swipe of the Dragon's tail. He returned the attack with a punch to the creature's head.
"Tommy!" Pink Ranger called. "I've got it! Come on, we have to lure this guy towards the harbor district. Tanya, get in touch with the Super Zeo Megazord. I have an idea, but we're going to need their help."
"Kat, the harbor district's one of the most populated places in the city. We can't risk two of these things running amok down there!" exclaimed Green Ranger.
"Adam, would you just trust me?" Pink Ranger shouted, sounding exasperated.
Red Ranger winced as the Fire Dragon swiped at the Zord with one claw-tipped hand. "Do as she says, guys. I think I know what she's trying, and trust me, it's a doozy." Backing off slowly, the Zeo Megazord began to lead the Fire Dragon towards the harbor district.
Meanwhile, near Angel Grove Harbor, the Super Zeo Megazord was waist deep in the ocean, battling the attacks of the Water Dragon. Every time they managed to deflect the torpedoes the monster launched, they were struck with a powerful jet of water.
"Face it, guys, we're a washout," Purple Ranger grimaced, as another blast of high pressure water struck the Zord.
"Very funny, Jamie," Black Ranger shot back. Her voice was taut with the effort of piloting the Zord. "Somebody give me some good news here!"
"I've got some!" Silver Ranger replied. "Tanya just called. She says that Kat has an idea of how to beat the monster, but we're going to have to work together. They're trying to lure the Fire Dragon here."
"Well, they'd better hurry," Lita shot back. "We can't get a clear shot at the damn thing, even with the Super Zeo Megazord Saber."
"Here they come!" White Ranger cried. "I've got them on radar, and they should be here on visual in a minute."
"I see them!" Black Ranger replied. "Katya, get me a direct radio link to the Zeo Megazord cockpit!"
"Done. Ready for transmission."
"Tommy!" yelled Black Ranger. "It's about time you got here. I know you're always late, but this is getting out of hand."
Red Ranger chuckled. "Sorry, Lil. I'll do better next time. Kat, tell the ladies what you've got planned."
"One's fire, one's water, right? And the two of them are mortal enemies! All we have to do is get them to shoot each other!" Pink Ranger explained.
Black Ranger nodded, forgetting that the other could not see her. "Right. Tommy, back-to-back formation. Be ready to hit the jump jets when I say go."
"Right, Lillian. Good luck."
"Hey, bro, I thought you were the one in charge of the Power Rangers," Blue Ranger chuckled.
"I am, but Lillian's just as good at tactical maneuvers as I am," Red Ranger admitted. "Better, actually, if you want to know the truth."
"Smokey's going to fire!" Pink Ranger called, watching her scope intently.
"Water Dragon too!" transmitted White Ranger.
"Wait for it, wait, and- GO!" shouted Black Ranger. The two Zords launched into the air, rising off the ground a distance of at least half again their own height. The fire and water blasts passed right through where the Zords had been, striking the Dragon on the other side. Being hit with the opposite element was too much for either Dragon, and both quickly self-destructed.
"All right!" Red Ranger cheered. "I wonder how the others are doing?"
* * *
In Rocky's room at Angel Grove Community Hospital, Rocky and Bulk were talking about nothing in particular when the monster sirens began to wail. The two boys exchanged glances. "Bulk, could you turn on the television?" Rocky asked. His condition had improved rapidly since his admission to the hospital. Although he had only been there for a day and a half, he had healed so well that the doctors had moved him out of Intensive Care and into one of the regular rooms. He was sitting up, and walking around, much to the astonishment of the hospital staff.
"So what did you tell the doctors about your 'miraculous recovery?'" Bulk asked, rising to switch on the television.
"Aw, Tommy brought me in as the Red Ranger, and the doctors just figure that the Rangers must have zapped me with something that increased my healing abilities. It's pretty close to the truth. Anyway, they're all just happy I'm going to make it, and I intend to be out of here tonight." They fell silent as the news came on, showing footage of the battles raging throughout Angel Grove.
"This is Marlene Maris for K-Grove News, live from the harbor district, where the Zeo Megazord and Super Zeo Megazord have just finished destroying two of the monsters which attacked our city only an hour ago. Unfortunately, as we speak, there are still two more dragons attacking, and a new type of foot soldier, which I am told is called a Piranhatron, is tearing up Angel Grove Park. Now we're switching to Mike La Rue, down in the park, for more information."
"Thanks, Marlene," Mike replied. The camera angle was odd, and Rocky and Bulk looked at each other in confusion. "For those of you wondering why I'm transmitting as such a strange angle, I'm up on the Rock Wall by the edge of the lake, staying well away from the action. Those Piranhatrons are brutal, and I don't want to risk distracting the Morphin Warriors as they battle them." He continued to talk, but Bulk and Rocky hardly noticed, only able to concentrate their attention on their friends, who were battling the Piranhatrons. Bulk winced as Skull took a particularly nasty hit.
"At least they've rescued Jason and Kim," Bulk sighed. Turning towards his friend, he cocked his head. "Do you wish you were out there?"
Rocky nodded wistfully. "Yeah, some. I miss the action already, but I know Dave's doing a good job. He always did when he filled in for Tommy." Suddenly a new voice from the TV drew their attention.
"This is George Lyman, from the top of the observatory, watching as the newest defenders of our city, the Turbo Rangers, take on one of these strange dragon-creatures. Unfortunately, they seem to be getting the worst of it. We can only hope that they manage to turn it around, as the Rangers have so many times before."
"Man," Rocky sighed. "I wish I knew who those Turbo Rangers are. I guess they're on our side, though, and we can use all the help we can get." Bulk simply nodded, and the two continued to watch the news coverage in silence.
* * *
"Where'd he go?" Red Turbo asked, scanning the sky for any sign of their adversary. They were fighting the Air Dragon in a field outside of town, and a bank of low clouds were gathering above them. The Dragon had taken advantage of this, swooping up into the cloud bank to hide and then diving on them from above.
"Nothing on the heat seekers, since he's metal," Pink Turbo informed him. "I'm watching the radar, but he's built like a stealth bomber. I just can't see him coming."
"We've got the individual Zord weapons, but they're too small to take him on," Green Turbo reported. "It would be like going after Elgar with a toothpick. Other than that, all we've got is the sword and shield. There's some sort of move called the "Turbo Megazord Spinout," but that seems to be used exclusively at the end of the battle, when you've got a clear shot at your opponent."
"Which we certainly don't have now," Red Turbo sighed. "Damage report?"
"Nothing major yet. This guy's strategy seems to be hit-and-run, mostly. Shields are at 85%, and we're running a little hot in the power room. Nothing vital, yet," replied Yellow Turbo.
"Got that link up to the others yet?" Red Turbo asked. Blue Turbo nodded.
"Yeah, I got it. Zeo and Super Zeo just took out their two, but they're in no shape to help us. Face it, Fred, we're in the best shape of all the Zords. Pyramidas has taken a couple of nasty shots from the Earth Dragon, and is still fighting him. We've got to handle this on our own."
"Right," Red Turbo responded grimly. "Anybody got any ideas?"
"I've got one," Pink Turbo shot back. "Hold on, because here he comes again!" The Zord rocked as the Air Dragon caught the Zord a staggering blow with its feet, swooping back up into the cloud cover once more.
"How the hell is this guy tracking us?" Yellow Turbo cried. "We're moving around under the clouds, we're radar-absorbing material, and we're not putting out any heat. What's he following, body odor?"
"Sound!" Blue Turbo yelled. "He can hear the engines, the gears, us talking, all of that! He must be sensitive to sound vibrations. It's the only thing that makes sense, and I think I can use it against him. I'll reconfigure the speakers to bounce a sonic signal like ours off those rocks. It'll be like we're in two places at once, and that one will be slightly louder. The odds are pretty good that he'll attack that sound, and we can get him."
"Pretty good odds?" Green Turbo shouted. "What happens if it doesn't work?"
"I'm out of options," replied Blue Turbo grimly. "Here goes nothing." He started the sound, and the five waited. Soon enough, the Air Dragon swooped out of the clouds to attack what he thought was the Turbo Megazord, only to find nothing at all.
"Batter up!" Red Turbo called, swinging the Turbo Sword at the Dragon, connecting with it solidly. The force of the blow knocked it into the nearby rocks, where it blew into little tiny pieces.
"Yahoo!" the five Turbo Rangers yelled. "We did it!"
"Yeah," Pink Turbo grinned. "I wonder if Trey's all right."
* * *
Gold Ranger was not all right. The Earth Dragon seemed to enjoy whacking at Pyramidas with its barbed tail, causing huge dents. "I just had this thing washed!" he grimaced. "Chew on this, fang-face." A bolt of energy shot from the top of the pyramid, sending the Dragon back a few paces. It quickly recovered, though, charging him again. This time, Pyramidas was actually shoved backwards, nearly sliding over one of the bluffs.
"You seem to like doing that," Gold Ranger mused. "I wonder if something I learned about from Rocky would work." Situating himself directly in front of the Dragon, he shot it again, not enough to hurt it, just enough to anger it. As he had suspected, it charged him, but this time, he was able to dodge it's charge.
He continued in this manner until the Dragon was so angry that it could think of nothing but ripping Pyramidas apart, and shot it one more time. It lunged at him again, and again he dodged. This time, however, the Dragon's momentum carried it off the bluff. It fell to the ground, where it promptly exploded. "All right!" Gold Ranger cried. "And another one bites the dust. Time to head back to the Power Chamber. Now it's all up to the guys on the ground."
* * *
The ground battle was over quickly, as Divatox had recalled her forces almost immediately after the loss of her last Dragon. Now all twenty-one Rangers were in the Power Chamber, Lita having returned to Rocky's bedside, and the crowding was intense. Still, little could mute the jubilant mood of the Rangers. They had just defeated a being of incredible power, and everyone was still alive. Tommy turned to the Turbo Rangers, who still wore their helmets, although everyone else had demorphed.
"You can take those off, you know. We've trusted you with our identities, and we won't betray yours."
The Turbos regarded each other, then looked at Red Turbo. He thought for a minute, then reached up and undid his helmet. The others followed suit. As they lowered their helmets, the older Rangers' jaws dropped.
"Rosa?" Katarina gasped.
Adam followed suit with an incredulous "Frank?"
"Justin?" Billy's astonishment was as tangible as that of the others.
"Tasha?" asked Tanya, surprised to see the girl she mentored.
Tommy was the last to speak, almost unable to conquer his shock at seeing his best martial arts student. "Fred? What's going on here?"
Fred shrugged. "It all started when we were playing in the park and something fell out of the sky." Quickly, Fred related the story of their adventure, explaining how they received the Turbo Powers and why they had taken them up. "Before you have a fit and say we're too young, let me just say this. Lerigot sent these powers to us, and nobody else. Nobody else could take them. We are the only ones who can do this. Now, if you think we're too young, go ahead and do what you think you have to. But I don't think I'm too young to fight for what I believe in, and I'll do it, powers or not. We all will."
The Zeos and Morphin Warriors regarded the five Turbo Rangers. The younger Rangers stood with jaws clenched and chins thrust forward stubbornly. For a long moment, no one said anything. Then Tommy shrugged.
"I don't like it, but it's not my decision. It's yours, and only yours. Welcome to the team, Turbo Rangers."
"Rangers," Zordon rumbled. "This has solved a problem that I know you have all struggled with over the past few months. In a short while, you will all be leaving for college, and I know you have wondered who to give the power to. I have also been worrying about this, and now a solution has presented itself. The Morphin Warriors, of course, will retain their powers, since they cannot be transferred. The same is true of the Gold, Purple, and Black Ranger powers. I have decided, if you agree, not to transfer the powers from any of you. The sixteen of you have formed a bond greater than any I have ever seen, and I doubt that I could reproduce it in another group of teenagers on such short notice. The Turbo Rangers, however, already possess that bond. I would like it if the Zeo Rangers kept their powers, to be called upon only in times of great need. The Turbo Rangers would then take over the responsibility of protecting Angel Grove.
"I would, in this case, leave you all with communicators, which are to be used at your discretion. I believe I can trust you not to abuse them. Also, when to use your Zeo or Morphin powers will be at your discretion in the future. I trust that you will use them wisely."
"You mean- we get to keep our powers?" Tommy asked, hardly daring to believe it.
"Yes, if the Turbo Rangers agree to take up your responsibility in your absence."
The five young teens huddled, discussing it for a time. Then, standing up, they turned back to Zordon. "We'd be honored," Fred replied. "It's a deal."
"Hey, check it out!" David cried. The television news was playing on the viewing globe, and everyone turned toward it.
"And so, Mayor Carrington has announced that a celebration is to be held to honor the Power Rangers, who have defended our city once again, and to welcome its newest defenders, the Turbo Rangers! Fireworks are planned for the evening, and Ernie's Gym and Juice Bar will be hosting one of the largest parties ever seen in Angel Grove."
"A party!" Justin cried. "Cool! Too bad Rocky can't be there."
"Actually," Tommy grinned, "he can. He's made a miraculous recovery, and the doctors had to agree to let him out of the hospital. He won't be doing karate for a while, but he'll be able to party with the best of them."
"Great!" Rosa exclaimed. "Let's go see him, and then head to the party!" The five Turbos demorphed completely, and all of the Rangers teleported out, except Billy. Once alone, he turned to Zordon.
"Could you explain something to me?" Billy asked. His tone didn't sound angry, merely curious. "When we were turned into little children, you told us that we could not be Rangers. Why can they?"
"For a number of reasons. First and foremost, the fate of the timestream is not riding on them the way it rode on you. If they fall in battle, it will be a tragedy, but it will not spell the end of the world as we know it- at least, not immediately. Second, they are older than the six of you were, not only physically, but mentally. They are thirteen, you were seven. Also, they have grown up in a world where monsters attack. They are tougher emotionally than you were at that age. Finally, I really have no choice. I did not give them their powers, and I cannot take them away. The only thing I could do is aid them or refuse to do so. If I refused to aid them, anything that befell them in the future would be on my head."
Billy nodded thoughtfully. "That makes sense, certainly. I'll worry, especially about Justin, but we'll be around to help them, so things can't get too bad." Shrugging, he teleported out.
* * *
"So, where are you all headed for college?" Ernie asked, setting down the tray of drinks. The Rangers had all helped him set up for the party that was about to start, and were now sitting around resting.
"Well, Jason, David, Rocky, Billy, Jamie, and I are all staying here," Tommy grinned. "Billy and Jamie are headed to Angel Grove University, and the rest of us are taking classes at AGBI, learning how to run our own business. Eventually, we hope to open a dojo together."
"I'll bet you'll do it, too," the older man grinned. "What about the others?"
"Well, Zack's going to Columbia, in New York City, Trini's off to Notre Dame, Adam's going to Northwestern, which is out in Illinois, and Kat's off to UCLA. Lillian's going to Crossworld City University, Tanya's off to Pitt, Skull and Kim are going to France, and Christina and Katarina have scholarships at a Dance Academy in London. Trey's not going to college, of course. He's just going to stay around here, especially since Chelsea's gotten into Stanford. They'll be close enough to visit a fair amount, especially now that we can use the teleportation system to get around."
"So the kids will be filling in for you?" Ernie asked. He liked to know who the new Power Rangers were, just in case he needed to cover for them.
"Yeah. They're the Turbo Rangers." Tommy shook his head. "I can't believe it."
"They'll do fine," Ernie grinned. "They remind me of a group of five kids I had in here about four years ago. Maybe you knew them."
"Yeah," Tommy smiled, watching Jason, Trini, Zack, Billy, and Kim horse around. "Maybe."
The party was a success, and as the entire team gathered on the patio at Ernie's to watch the fireworks, Billy had another flash of deja vu. This one brought no pain with it, however; instead he felt a flash of triumph. In that other memory, they had also won out over incredible odds, and were enjoying the moment of peace. He knew it wouldn't last, of course; it never did. Looking out of the corner of his eye, he watched Fred and his four friends as they cheered on the fireworks. Things were always changing in their lives, but somehow, they always came around to the same place again. Ernie's words to Tommy earlier echoed in his mind.
They'll do fine.
_Yeah, they will,_ he thought to himself. _They always do._ Then Billy dropped his pensive mood and lost himself in the fireworks once again.
Author's note: This may or may not be the last installment in the "Personality Conflicts" series. I haven't decided yet whether I want to do more or not. Please e-mail me with your opinion. Do you want to see more of this series? I can promise you that if I continue, I will not just focus on the Turbo Rangers. There's still the matter of Billy's deja vu, and of course, the Rangers attract trouble wherever they go, even all the way across the country in New York. Please write me and tell me what you want.